Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – June 2013

Volume 13 Number 6


  1. Welcome
  2. Promoting Responsibility
  3. Increasing Effectiveness
  4. Improving Relationships
  5. Promoting Learning
  6. Parenting
  7. Discipline without Stress (DWS)
  8. Reviews and Testimonials




The greatest news of our generation has been that self-image can be changed by choice and conscious effort. —Maxwell Maltz, M.D. author of Psycho-Cybernetics


The DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS “Accredited Seminar” will soon be available online and, therefore, viewed at your convenience.


Ben Carson is an American neurosurgeon and the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He is also a professor at Johns Hopkins University. Among other surgical innovations, he did pioneering work on the successful separation of conjoined twins joined at the head.

In 2008 Dr. Carson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award of the United States. Interestingly, as a youngster, Ben struggled academically throughout elementary school and emotionally with his temper. He was constantly in trouble.

What turned this avid television-watching youngster around? The answer: discipline and reflection leading to motivation.

First, his mother reduced his television time.

Second, she had young Ben read two books a week and produce written reviews for her. As Dr. Carson learned later, his mother could not read–but acted as if she could.

Third, his mother said, “Since you like television so much, if you read you can get yourself on television.”

Compared to what his mother did and said to him, no amount of external approaches of bribes, manipulations, or punishments could have motivated Ben to change his attitude or behavior.

Of course, what he achieved required discipline. But it was also his reflection on what his mother said that prompted him to become motivated enough to change him into one of the United States’ current role models.


During the last days of World War II someone commented to President Harry Truman that he appeared to bear up under the stress and strain of the presidency better than any previous president, that the job did not appear to have aged him or sap his vitality, and that this was remarkable–especially in view of the many problems which he faced as a wartime president.

His response was, “I have a foxhole in my mind.” President Truman mentioned that he was able to go inside his own imagination to escape stress and to relax.

In essence, the president created a “theatre in his mind” (a phrase created by Maxwell Maltz, M.D.) where the president went when he wanted to leave the many problems and challenges he inevitably encountered. Anyone can do the same to relieve stress. The reason is that stress is an emotion and emotion always follows cognition.

Males generally find it easier than women to compartmentalize because men have already cultivated the approach. However, by using a theatre of the mind women can also be successful.

The more you realize that the only way to change a feeling or emotion is to change your thinking, the more effectively you will be able to handle challenges. Of course, understanding this is only the first step. As with any procedure, it needs to be implemented at least seven times before your brain will have made new neural connections to form a habit.


We often tend to respond to other peoples’ thoughts and feelings from our own perspective. However, if you want to take your communication skills and relationships from good to great, one of the most important skills you can learn is to actually listen and HEAR another person; this means no judging, evaluating, or disbelieving while you listen


While working with a middle school for three days, I was asked by the counselor to conduct a counseling session. The request was to work with a student who was a major challenge to the school.

The counselor sat in the session and observed how I used noncoercion and collaboration to prompt a change in the student’s attitude and behavior.

I started the session by asking the student, “What was the situation that brought you to the office?” Alicia (not her real name) replied that she had called someone a bad name.

I mentioned that it seemed to me that the impulse of being unkind to a fellow student controlled her behavior. I explained, “If a person cannot control an impulse then the person becomes a victim of the impulse.” I asked her, “Would like to be in control of your life, rather than be a victim of your impulses?” She answered in the affirmative. I then asked if she would be interested in learning how to control herself so she wouldn’t repeat the same kind of behavior. She said, “Yes.” I

asked her, “What options or choices could you have chosen when you had the urge to call another student a bad name?” She said that (1) she could do nothing, (2) say something nice, (3) tap a toe, or (4) draw something.

After this discussion of possible choices, I asked her to stand and take a deep gasp. I gave her an impulse card.  The card looks like a traffic signal with three colored lights. I explained that the red refers to taking a deep gasp of breath in order to stop and take a moment to reflect. The yellow represents thinking about choices; the green is to “go” with the one you choose.

I explained that the only way she could avoid being a victim of her thoughts or her feelings would be to redirect her thinking. After she practiced this procedure of gasping, thinking of options, and then going with her choice, Alicia asked if she could keep the little impulse card. “It’s my gift to you,” I told her.

(I had previously visited a math class where Alicia was sitting in the back of the room drawing cartoons. An administrator had told me that she had hacked into a computer account, which indicated to me that she was very academically capable.)

I wanted to assess her reading, so I gave her something to read, which she read very well. I complimented her on her reading skill. Since the incident happened during her math class, I asked her if she liked math. She said that she did not. She also mentioned that she did not like the “advisory class” that she had to attend because she preferred to be with her friends during this time. (The “advisory class” is a flexible program taken by all students in the early part of the year but devoted to remedial work with students as the year progresses.)

I asked her what she would like and, of course, she wanted to get out of the “advisory class” because she wanted to be with her friends. I said that if this could be arranged, would she be willing to be tutored for two weeks in math? “Yes!” she responded. I also asked her if she would practice impulse control during these two weeks. She said that she would.

I asked her to again demonstrate how the impulse control procedure works. After she had practiced the procedure, I turned to the counselor and asked him if math tutoring could be arranged. He said that since he is in charge of the “advisory class” he could, and he would arrange for Alicia to be tutored in math.

That concluded the counseling session.

Later in the day, the counselor told me that Alicia told him that she not only liked me–but far more importantly–that she had changed her attitude.

In summary, the session was totally NONCOERCIVE. Nothing was imposed. The session was COLLABORATIVE. I worked with the errant student–sharing and asking, rather than telling. Finally, the student left with a SPECIFIC PROCEDURE to control future impulses.


When you use reflective questions, you are directing the other person’s thinking. It is this questioning process that starts the thinking process, both for you and for the other person. This kind of questioning is a gift to the person being asked because it induces clarity of thought. Similarly, the answer can be a gift to the person asking because it is a quick way to obtain and understand the other person’s viewpoint.

Asking reflective questions increases the parents’ awareness of a child’s perceptions, thereby significantly increasing the parents’ understanding of the child. This clarification leads to both increased effectiveness and improved relationships. A key purpose of all communications is to gain understanding, to get clarity of the other person’s thinking–not necessarily to achieve agreement. CLARITY TAKES PRECEDENCE OVER AGREEMENT. Experience has shown time and time again that aiming at understanding and clarity is the most effective route to resolving differences.

Here’s an example of how the process works. Two sisters were sharing a hand-held game. They agreed that the younger sister would have the first turn and that each would have two turns playing before passing the game to the other person to play. But after her two allotted turns, the younger sister did not want to give the game up. She ignored all the reminders from her sister and parent about the agreement.

The astute parent then thought, “What can I ask, not tell, to have her reflect on the agreement–on the agreed-upon procedure–and have her take responsibility?” As she was playing the game for the third time, the parent simply asked, “Is this your second try at your second game?” The youngster looked up and then handed the game to her sister. Asking a reflective question was more successful than attempting to use coercive persuasion.

This example brings up an important point. Sometimes we parents need to be satisfied with only a single step in the right direction. A single is not a home run, but it gets the baseball player to first base and moving in the desired direction. In the situation with young girl, the child was obviously not pleased to give up the game when she still wanted to play with it. The parent was not pleased that she did not keep her agreement to share after her second turn. However, progress was made–a step in the right direction.

As soon as you start asking reflective questions, you will immediately realize the effectiveness and power of this strategy. Questions such as the following are designed to promote deep and reflective thinking:

“Are you willing to try something different?”

“What would you do if you could not fail?”

“What can you do to accomplish that?” –

Parents will be better able to understand themselves and communicate more effectively with their children by taking the inexpensive Personality Behavior Styles Assessment


REQUEST: Our school is broken into academic teams: Pre K-2nd, 3rd-5th; 6th-8th (middle school), and lastly our virtual high school.

We have used behavior reflections in the past and I have found them to be effective. What I have done is combine our “School Creed” based reflection with your “Essay” and “Self- Diagnostic Referral.”

(The forms referred to are in the Resource Guide)

I have made the “Essay” applicable to all. I have made the “Self-Diagnostic Referral” appropriate to each team. If you have any comments or suggestions, that would be appreciated.

RESPONSE: Before resorting to any of the forms, I would first try using ELICITING a procedure to help the student help her/himself or would ELICIT a consequence from the student.

Keep in mind that the person who asks the question controls the situation.

1. Indicate that the behavior is on a level that is unacceptable.

2. Ask, ‘What do you suggest we do about it?”

3. Be ready to ask, “What else?” “What else?” “What else?” until the PROCEDURE or the CONSEQUENCE THAT THE YOUTH SELECTS is acceptable to you AND will help control future inappropriate impulses.

A few words about consistency and fairness: Ask students if they would rather be treated as a group or as individuals. They will readily express a preference to be treated as individuals. Therefore, using the PROCEDURE of ELICITING is more equitable, is more effective, is in each young person’s best interest, and is just as consistent as the procedure of IMPOSING a consequence.

REQUEST: On another note, as regards implementation and teacher observations/rubrics in general, do you use an observation tool to check on implementation of the system? Also, do you know of a good rubric/tool for evaluating/ observing teachers?

RESPONSE: I have no form for this but it would be easy to create one. As usual, I would develop a form that would have the teacher reflect. The approach prompts teachers to remember the system and has them become accountable for using the system. The first place I would start would be to look at the teaching model: http://marvinmarshall.com/files/pdf/teaching_model.pdf

Hare are a few example with which to start:

I – Teaching procedures rather than relying on rules: Explain a few procedures you have used recently with students.

II – The three principles to practice: Share a recent example of your communicating to a student in positive terms. Share an example of your offering choices to students. Share an example of having your students reflect.

III – Discipline Referring to part 3 of the Raise Responsibility System: With students who are often behaving on Level A or Level B, what are some of the procedures or consequences you have elicited from them?

As a former elementary, middle, and high school principal, my procedure had been to elicit responses in areas for which I had a concern by first ASKING what the teacher was doing in that area. THEN I made suggestions.


The following is from a recent SEMINAR evaluation:

Since Dr. Marshall spent the day training our staff, I have heard on multiple occasions teachers saying that their classroom situations have greatly improved. New teachers mention that their classroom management and relationship with students improved and that the training made their lives easier. Our veteran teachers have stated that the training reminded them about the things they had learned and helped them clarify our school’s discipline system. We continue to meet and put energy into the ideas that began when Dr. Marshall was here and we are seeing enormous improvements in our students behavior and teacher stress level. Great work was begun by Dr. Marshall and our staff and will continue into the future.  —Beth Harris Ventura, California

At our inservice, I was fortunate enough to connect with the presenter who said that if there was one book that would help “THAT” class that I have for one more year, it would be this book at http://marvinmarshall.com/store/discipline-without-stress.php She said it’s done amazing things in her classes. She has turned other teachers on to it, and they all are amazed. So I bought the book today and saw that there was a newsletter subscription. I am greatly looking forward to all of this. —Karen Bedore ,Aurora, IL

This is the book that parents and others who work with children have been looking for. As I read it, I was able to apply the simple concepts to my situations to see exactly where things went right or wrong. The concepts are universal to human interactions. —Kerry Ketcham, Des Moines, Iowa